Opening up the glove box of my late model sedan I found an old cassette tape that reminded me of a simpler time. It was an old Bob Dylan tape, cracked case and dirty dust jacket, but it looked like it still worked. The album was Highway 61 and I thought back to when I last listened to it on cassette and remembered that period of my life.
It was a time that I let the music define me. I would listen to Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan and act mysterious, hoping that the girls that I dated would remember me for that. Thinking back I can only laugh at how pathetic that seems.
Do not get me wrong, I never experienced the make-up wearing angst-ridden youth of the 80s wearing nothing but black and thinking their lives were so miserable. It was just a phase I went through that I enjoyed the mind altering and often depressing lyrics of Jimi and Bob. This was still during my years as a dead head so I did not stray far from the type of music that I typically enjoyed.
I remember one girl making a comment as we drove in the car with Desolation Row playing in the background, with the harmonica blaring through the speakers. She said she pictured me drinking whiskey and listening to the lyrics of You're gonna make me lonesome when you go.
Often I thought of trying to be that mysterious guys that the girls remember me for the music we listened to in the car. I went through phases. I started always as a dead head. In my college years I listened to psych rock and Bob Dylan, as I approached graduation I made my way to jazz. Not your Kenny G type of jazz but 50s Miles Davis and John Coltrane type stuff. The kind that made you sit back and try to figure out how they could play so fast.
I think jazz is where I stopped letting the music define me and I defined the music for me. I no longer cared if the woman I was dating thought of me as mysterious and I never tried to sway them to listen to jazz. Although a dinner at Sweet Basils in New York City with a jazz session afterward was always a sure thing for a date.
These last few years I do not have a type of music that I listen to on a daily basis. The music depends on my mood. I still favor the psych rock and the dead but I have come to enjoy some of the pop genre and music my daughter listens to. I will put on some Taylor Swift and dance around while I am cleaning the house, or I will play some Miles while I try to work on some writing or business ideas.
For me, Highway 61 brought back those memories, memories of a different time, a different person. One that I am glad has changed, although I have no regrets for being who I was.